Before the first read-through, designers presented their ideas for set, sound, lighting, and costumes and talked about how to balance a professional stage look with something that would also look and feel like it was built by 12-year-olds. The Resident Playwrights listened intently as the set designer explained his goals for a handmade feel inspired by everyone’s 12 year old experiences: dunkaroos, hand-me-down clothes, and general puberty angst. They looked at the costume designer’s ideas for how the children would differentiate visually between themselves and the adult roles they sometimes take on throughout the play by carefully-done color choices.
“I love how important the set, sound, lighting, and props are, and how it’s not just done and said,” one Resident Playwright, Jesheidi said. “David Jacobi leaves a lot of space for the designers to come up with their own stuff and make such a cool a** set.”
“Can I say two words?” Elena asked when questioned about the play. “Emotional and intelligent.”
The table conversation after the read-through could be described the same way. The conversation touched on everything from racism and metafiction to colorism and Drake’s real name. “I learned that difficult conversations about voice, taking a stand, race, and privilege will be vital to this project,” Maya said about her takeaway from the day. Brenden found that a relaxed environment is really important when having these kinds of serious talks.
Being asked to remember your favorite toy at 12 years old right after answering “What does privilege look like?” can help keep the mood from getting too heavy.
The Resident Playwrights took time to think about how this experience will connect with what they are learning throughout their residency. “From PYP I learned to understand how the little pauses in a scene create the most volume, depth, and emotion in a moment,” Elena continued, “And this play only highlighted that truth!”
Jesheidi said that they were bringing their experience of creating something about a real issue that is both serious and comical— something that is true for both Jesheidi’s work and Ready Steady Yeti Go!
Guillermo said that he brought his knowledge of “plays, writing, acting, directing, and community” to the room. From it he gained “the understanding of how all of those elements actually come together.”
Truly this experience will be one that everyone—the actors, the designers, the director and dramaturg, and all of our resident playwrights—will gain new understanding from!